One of the things I love most about the subjects I teach is how broad they are. In teaching literature, writing, and history, I have the opportunity to teach my kids things that they otherwise wouldn't be exposed to. We can explore new topics, have debates, and learn together to appreciate and represent the world around us in a way that is positive and uplifting.
I think it is also safe to say that literature and history classes help children learn how to think. I try to challenge that as much as possible by exposing my classes to everything I can. When we began our year, my history classes did an exploration of the Pocahontas story and determined, based on evidence (primary documents and historical adaptations), whether she actually "saved" John Smith. Since then, I have tried to teach them to form their own opinions, find their own evidence and form an opinion based on that evidence.
In my literature classes, I try to get my kids to explain meaning and theme, rather than saying, "when the author uses this color, he means ______." I want them to find depth and heart in their reading, rather than having them listen to my own ideas and meaning.
I really just want them to think.
But with events like the last week, it is hard for anyone to seek out the pure truth and form an opinion for their own. Instead, the media has hyper-focused on the events in Boston. Social media sites have exploded with anger and hate. Mouths spew forth intolerance and injustice.
It leaves my heart feeling very hollow. It makes me sad, to see people I love, respect, and admire saying things without truth, without evidence. Rather than sitting back and just taking it in, I see many jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst. And what has happened is that those judgments and anger have formed into widespread hate-misdirected at those who had nothing to do with what's going on in our world.
I will never be able to understand the jump from blaming an individual, who made personal and hard decisions to act in such a way, to blaming a group because they share some trait with those who are being accused. It happened with 9/11, it happened with Columbine and Sandy Hook, and I see the same anger coming from the events that have happened in Boston.
I have to wonder, as I watch people say things with such anger and hate in their words, if they were ever taught to think. Did they have someone who tried to tell them to think before speaking? I wonder if my own students will forget what I have tried to teach them and will utter words without thinking.
I'm not sure what my purpose was in writing this. I suppose I can see this as therapeutic-a way for me to get out my own uneasiness about the things I have seen and heard this week. Just know that my heart is sad. Everytime I see misplaced blame and anger, my heart breaks a little more. For now, my thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims in Boston (and Texas-they are also suffering).
I hope, that for everyone's peace, we get the answers we need.
It's great that you are working to teach these things to your students. I really do think it helps. If their parents are teaching them the right things, then your words will reinforce and they will be more apt to remember. I do feel that it all starts at home. You have to talk with your kids regularly about these subjects. I do it with my sons because there is nothing I can stand more than intolerance.ReplyDelete
The anger and hate has really been worrying me. I don't know what is going on with some people in this country, but it's really scaring me. The vitriol that is spewed regularly regarding our present really makes me sick and also makes me very afraid for him. It's a shame that we have to think about the worse that could happen.